Rabbinical Assembly Convention Hears Warning on Ecumenical Movement

“A second ecumenical movement, worldwide in extent and influence, threatens the lives of all of us,” a leading Jewish theologian told a gathering of 500 rabbis and a number of invited Canadian clergymen here tonight. Speaking on “Prerequisites of Faith,” Dr. Abraham Joshua Reschel, professor of Jewish ethics and mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, told his audience “that ecumenical movement is nihilism.”

Addressing the 66th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, the association of Conservative rabbis, at its first meeting outside of the United States, Dr. Heschel warned that “parochialism has become untenable. Jews and Christians alike share the same perils and fears. It is no longer safe for Jews to cultivate aloneness and uniqueness, to refrain from sharing either perplexities or certainties with Christians.”

Spiritual betrayal on the part of any one group affects the faith of all the world’s believers, Dr. Heschel said. “For all the profound differences in perspective and substance, Judaism is sooner or later affected by the intellectual, moral and spiritual events within the Christian society, and vice versa,” Dr. Heschel said.

“We must choose between interfaith and inter-nihilism,” the Jewish scholar told his listeners. “Cynicism is not parochial. In praying for each other’s health and in helping one another to preserve our respective legacies, therefore, we are preserving a common legacy of faith,” he said.

At an earlier session of the convention, Elie Wiesel, prize-winning author and a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, indicted world Jewry “for abandoning the 2, 500, 000 Jews of the Soviet Union.” Mr. Wiesel, who has just returned from Russia, drew parallels between what he saw as the abandonment of European Jewry during the holocaust and the neglect of Soviet Jewry today.

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